Summary: Joshua overcame his fear by: 1. by hearing the word of God 2. by immersing himself in the Word of God 3. by having courage to act on God’s word
Our passage this evening is from the book of Joshua and it is a reminder that we need to be careful not to “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory”
I would like to look at the background of this text.
Moses, that great man of God has led the Children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, in accordance with God’s promises.
Moses then sent 12 spies in to reconnoitre the land of Canaan – the land that God has told the Israelites to go in and possess.
10 of the spies came back with a bad report and told the Israelites that the task of taking the land was beyond them. They said: “We saw the Nephilim (that is giants) there. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes. And that is also how we seemed to them” (Numbers 13:33 NLB)
Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, reported back and urged the people to trust God and go in.
However, the Israelites decided to follow the report of the ten and not to go in.
As a result God refused to allow them to go into the Promised Land until that generation except Caleb and Joshua had died. As a result the Israelites wander 40 years in the desert.
Now only Caleb and Joshua are left from that original generation. And now Joshua is standing on the threshold of success.
He is about to see what Moses never saw – the taking of the Promised Land - and he is worried.
And with good reason.
Moses his great mentor is dead. Moses - the only man who had such a close relationship with God that he spoke to God “as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex 33:11)
It would have been easy for Joshua to hesitate. But God has told him to go in
Story: Abraham Lincoln once said about his commander –in-chief George McClelland:
“That man has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!’
after McClelland allowed Lee’s army to escape down the Appomattox river following the battle of Antietam
And we, as Christians can “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” if we are not careful
You can almost hear Joshua saying: “Have I really got this right. Will this little force of mine can I really overcome these mighty cities in Canaan?”
I believe that our reading reveals three ingredients that enabled Joshua to overcome his fear.
1. Joshua heard the word of God (Jos 1:3-6)
The first ingredient that enabled Joshua to overcome his fear was that God spoke to him and gave him his own promises in Joshua 1: 3 -5
3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates-all the Hittite country-to the Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
We need to listen for our own personal word from God.
Story: Back in 1997, God spoke to me and told me that I should become a Church of England minister.
At the time I was a successful patent lawyer and Head of the Group Patent Department at Reckitt and Colman.
I told Maddy and she said that God had shown her that God was calling me to become an Anglican clergyman two months earlier.